UCSF-STANFORD: Workers Demonstrate Against 2,000 Planned Layoffs
A crowd of more than 150 hospital workers protested yesterday on the Stanford University campus as "the first of the layoffs planned by UCSF Stanford Health Care system went into effect," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Some 2,000 jobs are to be eliminated, mostly through attrition, to head off a projected budget shortfall of $170 million across the next two years. Peter Van Etten, system president, announced recently that the network lost an unexpected $10.7 million in the first quarter of this year alone due to "lower-than projected patient load." The four-hospital system, which includes Stanford University Hospital and Lucile Salter Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto and UCSF Medical Center and Mount Zion Hospital in San Francisco, employs 12,500 workers.
Hurting the Patients?
Union leaders who organized the protest claimed that the initial layoffs were already affecting patient services at Stanford Hospital. They said that "most of the layoffs" so far appear to be among nursing assistants, admitting department personnel and supply workers. Health system spokesperson Mike Lassiter countered that the system is trying to stem the cuts' impact on patients by minimizing reductions in areas with the most patient contact, such as nurses and technicians. "Obviously there will be some inconveniences. It may take longer to check into the hospital and longer for tests," Lassiter said. Van Etten has also said "that the initial round of layoffs would fall most heavily on administrative, billing, computer operations and financial personnel." The union organizers delivered a petition against the cuts -- signed by 1,000 hospital workers and patients -- to the COO of Stanford Hopsital. An "undisclosed number" of staff are said to have received 30-day notices, the Chronicle reports (Workman, 4/29).